This week the UK government announced the booster programme is being significantly expanded to fight the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has announced that current vaccines are likely to be at least partially effective against the Omicron variant and that having the booster offers a much higher antibody response against Covid-19.
Around 50,000 people are already being vaccinated against Covid-19 each week in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay. The NHS is working to increase this capacity following the announcement that the booster programme is being expanded.
Darryn Allcorn Chief nurse for NHS Devon said, “The NHS is Devon is working hard to significantly increase capacity, to help fight a variant that most of us hadn’t heard of a week ago.
“We will be vaccinating the most vulnerable people first, starting with those who were already eligible for a vaccine. The NHS will contact people when it’s their turn, please don’t try to book or come to a walk-in clinic until then. Our vaccine clinics are already very busy and we thank people for their patience.
“We know that our best chance of a Christmas with loved ones is for people to step up and get vaccinated. If you haven’t yet had your first or second dose you are still welcome at our vaccination centres.”
The changes announced this week are for all eligible adults to be offered a booster by the end of January, with the gap between the second primary dose and booster shortened to 3 months.
People who are oldest and most vulnerable will be given priority before the programme is opened up further. People who are immunosuppressed will be offered a booster in addition to their three primary doses.
In order to meet the increased demand, capacity is being expanded across the country through increased availability in hospitals, cutting other burdens on GPs and pharmacies and increased payments for vaccinations, particularly those who are housebound.
Advice to the public, to reduce transmission of Covid-19 is to:
- Get vaccinated, and have your booster when invited
- Take a rapid lateral flow test if you will be in a high-risk situation that day, or before you visit people who are at higher risk of severe illness. You are at a higher risk if you are in an enclosed or crowded space, or there is limited fresh air.
- Self-isolate if positive and, if eligible, access the available financial support to help you do this
- Stay at home if unwell, to reduce the risk of passing on other illnesses onto friends, family, colleagues, and others in your community
- Meet in well-ventilated areas where possible, such as outdoors or indoors with windows open
- You must wear face coverings in shops and on public transport.
- Download the NHS COVID-19 app. Keep your Bluetooth and contact tracing on to stay informed in case you come into contact with a positive case.